Friday, July 18, 2014

Upcycling: Opening the Door to Something New

Grandfather Tree
Acrylic on Oak Cabinet Door
Approximately 16" X 20"

An artist friend of ours is planning to escape Looneyfornia and head north to Oregon. One day as she winnowed through her amassed possessions in preparation for the move, she called and offered me some old cabinet doors she found in the trash. Huh? 

Sweet Jean, artistic through and through, always marches to her very own creative drummer. She'd come across these old cast offs and decided they would make good painting surfaces—since the construction made them a perfect pre-framed "canvas". I had to go over and check them out. 

There were all shapes and sizes of doors in the pile, which had sat out in the sun for a few years, rendering the doors even more interesting than when she'd first carted them home. The finish was worn off in most places, leaving a rustic surface that I fell in love with. The hinges, still attached and speckled with rust, added to the charm. I was already imagining what I would paint on them. I loaded the doors into the car, plotting as to how to sneak them into the house to avoid the "I thought we were getting rid of junk" lecture from Clint. I couldn't wait to get one up to my studio and get to painting.

There was a little bit of prep work involved. First, I had to wash off the spider webs and dirt and let the doors dry thoroughly. Luckily with our super low humidity, this didn't take long. I then slathered two layers of gesso on the center panels to seal the wood and give me a good binding surface for the acrylic. Gesso on wood is a smooth, almost slippery, yet chalky foundation that yields a completely different painting experience. A hint of the wood grain comes through, adding another interesting element to the surface. Sometimes the excitement of a painting is found in the surprises generated by new materials and textures. It was highly stimulating—I've already started on my third "door" painting.

About the first door painting...

Grandfather Tree

I'd climbed up the hill to say hello to the La Plata Mountains, gleaming off in the distance. As I skittered back down, there at the base of the ridge I saw the weathered bones of Grandfather Tree—a perfect guardian standing stark against the big bowl of the Colorado sky.

As soon as I saw the cabinet doors, I knew I wanted to paint this image on one of them. Stay tuned for the next painting, coming very soon! 

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